Maple Ridge’s annual Dec. 24 community celebration known as Christmas Haven is back after a two-year absence.
The holiday feast will happen at The Act Arts Centre from 5-8 p.m. on Christmas Eve, and is free to everyone who would like to attend. There is always a festive atmosphere, and as in past years, there will be local music, gifts from Santa, children’s crafts and more. Each year hundreds of people take part, and some would otherwise be alone over the holiday season.
“The concept of the Haven is that no one has to be alone on Christmas Eve,” said organizer Corisa Bell.
The longtime event was not held in-person for the past two years, due to public health orders and the COVID-19 pandemic. It had been running since 1998. They were able to distribute dinners and gifts.
“We’re really excited about having the full celebration,” said Bell.
The steering committee has been “gleefully planning” this year’s event, she said, and encourages others in community to join their group on Thursday evenings at the Maple Ridge Library, at 6 p.m., to take part in the pre-planning.
It takes about 70 volunteers to put on the three-hour event, and they plan to accommodate 300 guests.
“Volunteer positions fill up fast every year, so if you’re excited to join us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org,” said Bell.
She noted that costs have gone up 50 per cent since the last time a full event was held. They are now paying rent at The ACT, will pay for catering rather than using the Salvation Army kitchen, and rising food costs have hit the steering committee along with every household in the country.
“We want to enjoy this year’s event, and then we will need to spend the next year coming up with solutions to addressing these escalated costs, as this is a game changer for the Haven,” said Bell.
She is confident the event will continue, with new relationships.
In addition to volunteers, the organizers are seeking donations, including financial help. They need warm winter items for women and men, like toques, socks, or gloves – hand crafted or store bought. Guests would also love and appreciate a $5 gift card from Tim Hortons. Any of these items can be dropped off at Temptations Spa and Salon in Maple Ridge or at Tuscany Salon in Pitt Meadows. For information about financial donations email Christmashaven@gmail.com.
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